Friday, November 29, 2013

Copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Is it the day after Thanksgiving?


Should I have posted this recipe earlier in the week so you could all make these delicious treats for a Thanksgiving breakfast, or a Black Friday 3 a.m. waiting-in-line snack?


But timely blogging just isn't my strong suit, people. Plus- these muffins are too scrumptious to only be made one or two days out of the year.

So grab some cream cheese and crack open that spare can of pumpkin, it's muffin time!

...which will probably lead to 'muffin top time'....

Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Preheat the oven to 350, and line a muffin tin with paper cups. You can lightly spritz the top of the muffin tin with cooking spray, as the muffins will rise, but this isn't necessary.

Sweet Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened 
  • 2 TB sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
Using an electric mixer or a very strong rubber scraper and some elbow grease, mix the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together until smooth. Cover the bowl and allow to chill in the fridge until baking time. (Note: I usually double my filling recipe because I always seem to run out.)

Candied Pumpkin Seeds (I didn't have any seeds on hand, and it was too cold to go out and get some, so I left these out. Don't judge.)
  • 2 TB brown sugar
  • 1 TB water
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 TB shelled, plain pumpkin seeds
Combine sugar, water and cinnamon in a medium skillet on medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and stir constantly for about 2 minutes- the water should have evaporated and the sugar crystalized. When the sugar begins to harden, immediately pour the seeds onto a parchment lined plate, separating any seeds that are clumped. Allow to cool completely. 

Muffin Batter
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs 
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling!)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl/KitchenAid, mix eggs, sugars, and vanilla together on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add pumpkin and oil, then mix another 30 seconds. Add in the flour mixture and blend together for an additional 30 seconds, or until the batter is free of lumps. 

To Assemble:

Fill muffin cups to the top with the pumpkin batter. Grab the cream cheese filling from the fridge and scoop up approximately one tablespoon of filling. Roll gently into a ball, then press into the center of each muffin until mostly covered by the batter. Sprinkle a few of the candied pumpkin seeds on top.

Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 5-10 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool completely. You may need to run a knife lightly around the tops to remove the muffins from the tin. 

Leftovers can be stored in the freezer for pumpkin time, any time. Just defrost at room temp for 2 hours.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Freezer Burritos

I must confess: I love freezer food.

Frozen pizzas...
Frozen perogies... 
Frozen potstickers....
Other frozen foods that don't start with 'P'....

But freezer food is such a guilt fest that I'm not sure if it's worth it. 

The judgy look from the checkout lady at the store, the extensive ingredient list (half of which I can't pronounce), the ridiculous calorie count, and my inability to NOT eat an entire pizza in one sitting really puts a damper on the whole meal. 

What's a gal to do? 

Make her own freezer food, that's what!

These burritos are easy-peasy from beginning to end.

  •  5-7 pounds pulled pork (I use this recipe)
  • Beans of choice (see below for my Chipotle Black Beans)
  • Jar of salsa
  • Cheese (I like to use Velveeta in these because it reheats great and it's easy to portion out. Don't judge.)
  • Burrito flour tortillas (15-20 should do you right)
  • Aluminum foil
A few tips:

Start with cold/room temp ingredients. I make my pork and beans the day before and pull them out of the fridge (along with my tortillas) 30 minutes before I start. Warmed ingredients will lead to condensation, which will lead to soggy burritos upon reheating. Bleh.

Don't overfill. I generally use 1/3 cup meat, a spoonful of salsa, two soup spoons of beans and one slice of cheese. I'm able to fold up my burritos without the ingredients leaking out or breaking through the tortilla.

Line your wrapped burritos on a baking sheet and freeze them flat before you toss the in a freezer bag. 

When you're ready to eat, unwrap and heat in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, or place wrapped burrito in a 350 degree oven and bake 35-45 minutes, or until heated through. 

Fill, fold, foil and freeze. What could be easier?

Chipotle Black Beans:
  • 2 cans black beans: 1 drained, one undrained
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • pinch of allspice
Add all ingredients to a medium saucepan and simmer on low for 20 minutes. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Lazy Day Tea

There are few things that make me feel quite as cozy as a nice pot of tea.

Not a cup of tea, mind you. No- a whole pot.

And when I want a whole pot of tea, I want the whole shabang: teapot, cup, saucer, tea spoon, cream and sugar bowl.

Even if the sugar bowl is missing one of it's handles.

The secret to enjoying a pot of tea is to go cup by cup. Add the sugar (I prefer 1 lump per cup), pour the tea, stir in a spoonful of cream, and sip away peacefully.

Do not- I repeat, DO NOT try to mix your sugar and cream right into the teapot. This is not a pitcher of sangria or some mass produced swill to leave out on a self-serve bar. This is a tea service, by George, and you will appreciate the beauty and serenity of preparing one perfect cup after another!

Black tea, real sugar (perhaps infused with a bit of vanilla), and the heaviest of heavy cream.

In other words....